New mural unveiled in downtown Fairbanks

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Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 9:58 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - A community mural was unveiled at the Native Movement Building in downtown Fairbanks, at noon on Tuesday, September 13.

The new home of the community mural is on the side of the Native Movement Building. The mural depicts Minto elder and youth leader Vernell Titus, Native Movement organizer Naaweyaa Tagaban and three Alaska Native children. An audience attended the gathering, included the people pictured in the mural. The official unveiling included prayers, speeches, music, dance and food.

The artwork on the building is a mixture of paint and two wheat pasting papers which were used for the pictures of the individuals in the mural. Paste papers are usually papers which have been painted with a cooked and colored flour and water mixture.

The wheat pasting pictures were taken by Jeff Chen at a culture summer camp in Nenana. Enei Begaye Peter, the Executive Director of Native Movement said that the mural is “not only an offering of art to the community but it’s also a prayer for the return of the salmon and just a gratitude for the elders and for the youth.” According to Peter, Native Movement has always intended to use the back of their building as a art display and that they “really wanted to see...[themselves] represented.” The board for Native Movement selected the photo’s which show Titus holding a cut salmon and the other four holding small bark canoes, to accomplish just that.

During the ceremonies, all of the people pictured in the mural introduced themselves and gave a speech about what it means to them. Titus specifically spoke about her experiences working with youth and elders and how the mural’s statement, “what the hands do the heart learns,” embodies the work she has done in passing down Alaska Native culture.

Since the wheat paste is only temporary, Native Movement is allowing the public to provide input for the next mural that will be put up to replace the wheat paste pictures. The public can provide their feedback by going to the mural and scanning the QR code in the bottom left corner of the artwork. A new mural is expected to be made in the spring of 2023.